Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

West Coast Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish at Berkeley Rep stars Michelle Krusiec and Alex Moggridge, August 24-October 7, 2012

Michelle Krusiec and Alex Moggridge lead the cast of the West Coast premiere of David Henry Hwang’s recent Broadway comedy Chinglish, in the Roda Theatre of the Tony Award-winning Berkeley Repertory Theatre, August 24-October 7, 2012. Chinglish received its Broadway premiere in Fall 2011, was named “Best American Play of 2011” by TIME magazine, and as one of the Top 10 Broadway shows of the year by Bloomberg Radio, NY1 and WNYC.The cast of Chinglish also features Vivian Chiu, Celeste Den, Austin Ku, Brian Nishii and Larry Lei Zhang.

Michelle Krusiec (Photo by Lia Chang)

Michelle Krusiec (Photo by Lia Chang)

David Henry Hwang won three Obies and the Tony Award for Best Play with M. Butterfly and FOB. Now he’s back with a canny comedy of cross-cultural errors. Two-time Obie-winner Leigh Silverman returns to the Roda Theatre to stage the twists in a terrific play she took to Broadway. Love is on the line, and laughter fills the ledger in Chinglish, a co-production with South Coast Repertory, where it will play in 2013.

“I’m always looking for smart comedies to share with our audience,” says Tony Taccone, artistic director of Berkeley Rep. “David brokers the comic gap between what words mean and how they’re translated. Before our eyes, a delightful farce subtly transforms into a timely and treacherous dissection of two cultures entwined in misunderstanding. I’m delighted to welcome David back to the Bay Area, and to bring Leigh – a terrifically talented director – back to our stage with a crackerjack cast and creative team.”

In Chinglish, Alex Moggridge plays an American businessman who heads to Asia to score a lucrative contract for his family’s firm – but the deal isn’t the only thing getting lost in translation as he collides with a Communist minister, a bumbling consultant, and a suspiciously sexy bureaucrat.

David Henry Hwang Photo by Lia Chang

David Henry Hwang Photo by Lia Chang

David Henry Hwang’s plays include Bondage, The Dance and the Railroad (1982 Drama Desk Award nomination), Family Devotions (1982 Drama Desk Award nomination), FOB (1981 Obie Award), Golden Child (1997 Obie Award, 1998 Tony Award nomination), M. Butterfly (1988 Tony Award, 1989 Pulitzer Prize finalist), and Yellow Face (2008 Obie Award, 2008 Pulitzer Prize finalist). He also wrote the libretti for three Broadway musicals: Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida (co-author), Disney’s Tarzan, and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song (revival, 2002 Tony Award nomination). In opera, his libretti include four works with composer Philip Glass – 1000 Airplanes on the Roof, Icarus at the Edge of Time, Sound and Beauty, and The Voyage – as well as Howard Shore’s The Fly, Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar (two 2007 Grammy Awards), and Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland (Opernwelt 2007 World Premiere of the Year). Hwang penned the feature films Golden Gate, M. Butterfly, and Possession (co-author), and co-wrote the song “Solo” with Prince. He sits on the Council of the Dramatists Guild, and served on the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities by appointment of President Clinton. Hwang is Signature Theatre’s Residency One Playwright for the 2012-2013 Season. David Henry Hwang Set as Signature Theatre’s Residency One Playwright for the 2012-2013 Season
Chinglish director Leigh Silverman © Lia Chang

Chinglish director Leigh Silverman © Lia Chang

Leigh Silverman directed the world-premiere production of Lisa Kron’s In the Wake at Berkeley Rep in a co-production with Center Theatre Group. The play went on to The Public Theater, where she received an Obie Award and Lucille Lortel nomination for outstanding direction. Chinglish marks the second time she has premiered a play by David Henry Hwang, having previously directed Yellow Face at CTG and The Public. Silverman also directed the world premieres of Beebo Brinker Chronicles at Hourglass Group/37 Arts, Blue Door at Playwrights Horizons and Seattle Repertory Theatre, Coraline at MCC/True Love, Creature at New Georges/P73, From Up Here at Manhattan Theatre Club (Drama Desk nomination), Go Back To Where You Are at Playwrights Horizons (Obie Award), Hunting and Gathering at Primary Stages, Jump/Cut at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company/Theater J and Women’s Project, Oedipus at Palm Springs at New York Theatre Workshop, The Retributionists at Playwrights Horizons, and Well at The Public, the Huntington Theatre Company, and American Conservatory Theater. She also staged Wit in the West End and Danny and the Deep Blue Sea at Second Stage Theatre.

Vivian Chiu (Zhao) was a member of the original company of Chinglish on Broadway. A native of Taiwan, her New York credits include Agamemnon at Vortex Theater Company, Limbs: A Pageant at HERE Arts Center, and an off-Broadway revival of Night Over Taos, directed by Estelle Parsons at Intar Theatre.

Celeste Den (Miss Qian / Prosecutor Li) appeared in the world premieres of 11 Septembre 2001 and Peach Blossom Fan at Center for New Performance; Between Two Friends and Island at Actors Theatre of Louisville; Spit, Shine, Glisten at Cotsen Center for Puppetry and the Arts; and Wild Swans at American Repertory Theatre and Young Vic Theatre in London.

Michelle Krusiec (Xi Yian) has appeared in many films from Sweet Home Alabama to What Happens in Vegas. She is best known for her starring role opposite Joan Chen in the romantic comedy Saving Face, which garnered her a Chinese Language Oscar, also known as the Golden Horse, for Best Actress. On stage, she has performed her solo show Made in Taiwan at the 2002 HBO Aspen Comedy Arts Festival, the 2003 LA Women’s Theatre Festival, the 2005 New York Asian American Theatre Festival, and the 2010 New York International Fringe Festival and Fringe Encores.

Austin Ku (Bing /Judge Geming) has performed at the Hangar Theatre, Kansas City Starlight Theatre, the New York Musical Theatre Festival, Ogunquit Playhouse, and Walnut Street Theatre. He also appeared off Broadway and in the new musical Tokio Confidential. Locally, Ku has been seen at 42nd Street Moon, Marin Theatre Company, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, San Jose Stage, TheatreWorks, and the Willows Theatre.

Alex Moggridge (Daniel) portrayed Andrei in Berkeley Rep’s recent production of Three Sisters. In the Bay Area, he has performed at ACT, Aurora Theatre Company, Center Rep, the Magic, MTC, San Jose Repertory Theatre, SF Playhouse, and Shotgun Players. His regional credits include shows at Artists Repertory Theatre, B Street Theatre, MCC Theater, Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre, and Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Brian Nishii (Peter) is a trilingual performing artist from Tokyo. He has collaborated with New York dance and theatre companies such as Crossing Jamaica Avenue, Fluid Motion Theater & Film, Great Jones Repertory Company at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, Imua! Theatre & and Film Company, Maura Donohue/In Mixed Company, Project 400 Theatre Group, Robert Wilson, the South Wing, and Velocity Theatre Company.

Larry Lei Zhang (Minister Cai Guoliang) is an original cast member of Chinglish. Locally, he performed in Don Giovanni Meets Xi-men Qing at the Chinese Culture Center with San Francisco Opera, Blue and Black at the Palace of Fine Arts, and Long Day’s Journey into Night at Tao House. A graduate of Shanghai Theatre Academy, his Shanghai credits include Emperor Romulus and Mourning at Theater Academy, Mei Lanfang at the Majestic, and Yin and Yang at the Lyceum.

The creative team behind the Broadway production of Chinglish reunites for this production:
David Korins (scenic design) designed Berkeley Rep’s productions of Finn in the Underworld, In the Wake, and Passing Strange. His Broadway credits include Bridge & Tunnel, Bring It On, Chinglish, An Evening with Patti Lupone & Mandy Patinkin, Godspell, Lombardi, Magic/Bird, and Passing Strange, as well as upcoming productions of Annie and Motown. He has received a Drama Desk Award, two Hewes Design Awards, a Lucille Lortel Award, and the 2009 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Design.

Anita Yavich (costume design) designed Dael Orlandersmith’s costume for Berkeley Rep’s world premiere of Black n Blue Boys / Broken Men. Yavich also designed the Broadway productions of Anna in the Tropics, Chinglish, and Venus in Fur. An Obie Award recipient, her other New York credits include shows at Classic Stage Company, MCC Theater, the New Victory Theater, The Public/New York Shakespeare Festival, Signature Theatre Company, and Theatre for a New Audience.

Brian MacDevitt (lighting design) has designed more than 60 productions on Broadway including The Book of Mormon, for which he earned a Tony Award. His recent New York credits also include the Broadway productions of Chinglish, Death of a Salesman, and The Mountaintop, as well as The Enchanted Island and Le Compte Ory at the Met. MacDevitt is the recipient of a Bessie Award, a Drama Desk Award, a Hewes Award, an Obie Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, and five Tony Awards.

The work of Darron L West (sound design) has been heard in more than 500 productions nationally and internationally, on Broadway and off. His previous credits at Berkeley Rep include Compulsion, Finn in the Underworld, and To the Lighthouse. His accolades include the AUDELCO Award, the Eddy Award, two Hewes Awards, the Lucille Lortel Award, the Obie Award, the Princess Grace Award, and the Tony Award.

Jeff Sugg (projection design) designed video and projections for Berkeley Rep’s production of Compulsion. Among his many credits, he earned a Hewes Award, a Lortel Award, and an Obie Award for his work on The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island with Vineyard Theatre and another Hewes Award for 33 Variations (Broadway, Arena Stage, and La Jolla Playhouse).

Shawn Duan (projection design) has countless credits including Assassins at 2nd Avenue Theatre, Benjamin Button the Opera at Symphony Space, Chinglish on Broadway, Citizen Ruth the Musical at Minetta Lane Theatre, Knickerbocker at The Public, Most Happy Fella at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, Mr. Joy at Riverside Church, Prima Donna at New York City Opera, and The Who’s Tommy at Abrons Art Center.

Chinglish special events:
Low-cost previews take place on Friday, August 24; Saturday, August 25; Sunday, August 26; and Tuesday, August 28.
Opening-night festivities are held on Wednesday, August 29 with a pre-show dinner for donors at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza and a post-show party for the audience featuring wines from Raymond Vineyards.

Teen Night begins at 6:30 PM on Friday, September 7 and includes dinner, a presentation by a member of the artistic team, and a performance of the show. Tickets are only $10 for highschool students. For details, call (510) 647-2973 or e-mail

Post-play discussions moderated by theatre professionals follow the 8:00 PM shows on Thursday, September 13; Tuesday, September 18; and Friday, September 28. Post-show discussions with Berkeley Rep’s docents take place after all weekend matinees.

Free 30-minute docent presentations are also offered at 7:00 PM every Tuesday and Thursday evening.

The Roda Theatre is located at 2015 Addison Street, near bus lines, bike routes, and parking lots – and only half a block from BART. For tickets or information, call (510) 647-2949 or go to

David Henry Hwang Articles:
New York Foundation for the Arts presents ‘An Evening with David Henry Hwang’ at Barnes & Noble on July 26, 2012
Performing Arts Images from the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection on Display at the Library of Congress to Celebrate APA Heritage Month
Photos: David Henry Hwang, Oskar Eustis, BD Wong, Brian d’Arcy James, Francis Jue, Jennifer Lim and Leigh Silverman at WNYC’s The Greene Space
WNYC’s The Greene Space presents “An Evening with David Henry Hwang” featuring Oskar Eustis, Brian d’Arcy James, BD Wong, Jennifer Lim, Francis Jue
Filmmaker Justin Lin Acquires Film Rights to David Henry Hwang’s Critically Acclaimed Broadway Comedy Chinglish
David Henry Hwang Set as Signature Theatre’s Residency One Playwright for the 2012-2013 Season
The SFIAAFF30 Kicks Off with World Premiere of White Frog Featuring Booboo Stewart, Harry Shum, Jr., Joan Chen, Kelly Hu and BD Wong, at the Castro Theater on March 8
David Henry Hwang to Receive 2012 William Inge Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award
Photos & Video: Celebrate Chinese New Year with David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish Photo Flash: Library of Congress’ IN REHEARSAL Exhibit
David Henry Hwang, Kathryn Layng and BD Wong at the Asian American Writers Workshop Literary Awards
Nothing is Sacred in David Henry Hwang’s Comedy of Mistaken Racial Identity
Francis Jue, At Home on the Stage
The Making of the Flower Drum Song Cast Album
Flower Drum Song, An American Story
The Literary Legacy of C.Y. Lee
Click here for more articles on David Henry Hwang.

Other Articles by Lia Chang
$UPERCAPITALIST starring Derek Ting, Linus Roache, Kenneth Tsang, Richard Ng and Kathy Uyen is the AAIFF’12 Centerpiece Presentation on July 28, 2012; opens in U.S.Theaters in August
35th Asian American International Film Festival Line-up in New York
Daniel Hsia’s Shanghai Calling, Simon Yin’s Supercapitalist & Michael Kang’s Knots to Screen at 35th annual Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) in New York, which runs July 25 – August 5, 2012
NYMF: Prison Dancer starring Jose Llana, Jeigh Madjus, Marc delaCruz, Catherine Ricafort, Moses Villarama, Cosmo Clemens, Enrico Rodriguez, Albert Guerzon, Andrew Eisenman and Nathan Ramos at Theatre at St. Clement’s, July 20-28, 2012
Three Year Swim Club, Encounter, TEA, Christmas in Hanoi and Chess set for East West Players 47th Anniversary Season
Photos: All-Access Pass to Disney’s Aladdin at The Muny with Thom Sesma, Francis Jue, Robin De Jesus, John Tartaglia, Jason Graae, Curtis Holbrook, Eddie Korbich, Samantha Massell and Ken Page
Rick Shiomi helms Mu Performing Arts’ Asian American Cast of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods at Park Square Theatre in St. Paul, July 17-August 5, 2012
Dian Kobayashi, Emily Kuroda and Jeanne Sakata set for Daniel Akiyama’s A Cage of Fireflies at 2012 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab
Epic Theatre Presents Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths, starring Joel de la Fuente, May 20-21, 2012
Performing Arts Images from the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection on Display at the Library of Congress to Celebrate APA Heritage Month
Photos: Yellow Fever Playwright Rick Shiomi Explores New Territory with An All-Female Cast
Tony Award – winning Playwright Terrence McNally to be Honored at Westport Country Playhouse Annual Gala, September 24, 2012
Richard Thomas and Boyd Gaines to star in An Enemy of the People at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre during Manhattan Theatre Club’s 2012-2013 Season
Multimedia: Exclusive photos and video of Disney’s The Lion King Las Vegas -In the Makeup Chair with Thom Sesma
Photos: BD Wong, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Brandon Victor Dixon, Tom Viola at “Passing It On: An Evening of Mentorship to Benefit Rosie’s Theater Kids”
Photos: Highlights of Shinsai: Theaters for Japan (3pm) with Andre Bishop, Mary Beth Hurt, Jennifer Lim, Angela Lin, Philip Kan Gotanda, Thom Sesma, Sab Shimono, Richard Thomas, Jay O. Sanders, and more
Photos: Highlights of Shinsai: Theaters for Japan (8pm) with Oskar Eustis, Patti LuPone, Lisa Emery, Ann Harada, Paolo Montalban, Thom Sesma, Sab Shimono, Henry Stram, Richard Thomas, John Weidman and more
Photos: In Rehearsal with Director Bartlett Sher and the cast of Shinsai: Theaters for Japan
Photos: In Rehearsal with BD Wong at Dixon Place for Live Concert Recording of Herringbone
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang. Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist.
All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2012 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at

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